TRUSTED NEWS LEADER FOR COTTONWOOD, CAMP VERDE & THE VERDE VALLEY
Sun, Oct. 20

Editorial: Controlled burns a necessary fact of life in Arizona

Smoke was prevalent throughout the Upper Verde Valley Tuesday morning as seen from this vantage point in Jerome. Photo courtesy of Ron Chilston

Smoke was prevalent throughout the Upper Verde Valley Tuesday morning as seen from this vantage point in Jerome. Photo courtesy of Ron Chilston

It’s as much a guarantee as death and taxes.

Smoke and haze in the Verde Valley during the summer months.

You’re not going to escape it.

This week it seems the Verde Valley has been hit from nearly every direction largely in part because of controlled burns in the Coconino and Kaibab national forests to the north and a controlled burn instigated by Mother Nature to the east that the Coconino National Forest has dubbed the “Coldwater Fire.”

Controlled burns have always been a source of contention here in the Verde Valley and Sedona. Smoke likes to follow and settle in river valleys. Both Oak Creek and the Verde River are like magnets for smoke from fires – controlled or otherwise – that can have their origins 100 miles away.

We all agree that it’s unpleasant to have to breathe the stuff. No one enjoys itchy eyes and a hacking cough. That’s what we have to live with during these fires that are purposely ignited as a fire-management strategy.

But the inconvenience of these controlled burns is better than the alternative.

Those who have lived in Arizona since 2000 should well remember the Rodeo-Chedeski and the Wallow fires in the eastern part of Arizona and the resulting smoke that blanketed the entire state.

Controlled burns are viewed as part of the overall Forest Service management plan to spare us from raging wildfires that consume hundreds of thousands acres of forest land and leave the rest of the state buried in smoke so thick that visibility is all but lost within 100 yards.

Let’s face it. In Arizona, we are going to have fires during the summer months. They can be those that are managed and controlled, or those that rage for weeks.

Both inconvenience us with smoke.

So think of it as a lesser of two evils. It’s something we have to live with in Arizona.

Yes, we are inconvenienced by smoke from controlled burns.

But it’s a lot better than the alternative.

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